A recent lawsuit (Planned Parenthood of Arizona v. Humble et.al.) was resolved this week. The lawsuit had challenged a new law (signed last legislative session) that (among other changes) requires us to license facilities that perform medication abortions. We already license and inspect facilities that do surgical abortions- the new law requires that facilities that perform “medication” abortions be licensed as well. As background- when the original law passed that required the licensing of abortion clinics (in 1999) all abortions were in some way surgical. However, the standards of care have evolved and now there are as many medication abortions as surgical abortions in Arizona.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit a couple of months ago challenging a number of provisions in the new law. Up until a few days ago it looked like we were headed for a series of depositions and hearings and a protracted dispute. However, this week they had a change of heart and were motivated to settle.
The suit was resolved when they agreed to withdraw their Application for Preliminary Injunction if a Stay Order would be placed on a few provisions related to the technical licensing requirements for medical abortions. The bottom line is that our current rules for abortion clinic licensing were written when all abortions were surgical. There are a few of our regulations that are important for surgical abortions but aren’t relevant for medication abortions because of the way they’re performed- so we were OK with excusing a handful of the surgical requirements (for facilities that only do medication abortions). The Plaintiffs agreed to drop all of the other former complaints in exchange for the agreement.
This week’s agreement allows us to begin licensing and regulating any abortion clinics that provide medication abortions by September 13… and our medical licensing team is poised and ready to add facilities to their list of work. Thanks go out to Tom Salow and his team as well as our team of nurses in Medical Licensing for moving quickly this week to settle this matter.